Transphobia in Relationships

Dating abuse among the LGBTQ+ community occurs at the same rate as heterosexual relationships. The abuse can often occur in similar ways in those relationships. However, people who are trans or nonbinary may experience disproportionately high rates of dating abuse compared to cisgender individuals. Transphobia in relationships and our society at large is a major reason for disproportionately high rates of abuse. But what does that look like?

Terms to Know

To fully understand what transphobia in relationships looks like, it’s essential to understand some important terms.

Cisgender: Someone who identifies with the gender or sex they were assigned at birth.

Gender Identity: Your personal sense of what your gender is.

Nonbinary: Your gender identity doesn’t fit under the label of either “male” or “female”; this may mean identifying as both a man and a woman, in between, or outside of those categories.

Transgender: Your gender identity is different from the gender that the doctor assigned you at birth.

Transphobia: Someone who has hate, fear, or disgust for someone who is transgender or does not fit into the male/female gender binary. The negative feelings are based solely on the fact that someone is transgender.

Transphobia in Relationships

Now that we understand the terms, we need to know what transphobia in relationships looks like. Any form of transphobia in your relationship is wrong; in fact, many of the behaviors are abusive. This is because one partner (who is not trans) wants power over their trans partner and to control them. Examples include:

  • Using incorrect or offensive pronouns such as ‘it’ when referring to the trans partner, especially when angry or upset
  • Referring to your partner by their deadname
  • Threatening to tell family, friends, or other members of the community that you are trans (if those people don’t already know)
  • Refusing to pay for or withholding money for gender-affirming care
  • Saying no one will believe you or take you seriously because of your gender identity.

Safety Planning

It can be extremely harmful to experience transphobia in a romantic relationship. Whoever you are dating, whether it’s casual, serious, or in between, should treat you with dignity and respect. If you are experiencing transphobia in relationships, it’s important to create a safety plan and practice self-care.

Depending on what you are experiencing, safety planning can take many forms.

Emotional Safety Planning

Your emotional well-being is crucial when in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Emotional safety planning tips include:

  • Seek supportive people. A trusted family member or friend who knows you are trans can be a huge help. These are people you can talk to about your experience without being worried about them disowning you because of your gender identity.


  • Create a peaceful space for yourself. Whether it is a private space in your home or a safe place near your home (like a library or park), find a place where your mind can relax. Abuse is emotionally exhausting, so having a space where you can process your experience or focus on something else for a period can be positive for your emotional well-being.
Physical Safety

Physical violence can happen at any time and place when you’re with an abusive partner. These tips can help keep you safe.

  • Know the fastest way to exit a room or home if your partner becomes violent.
  • Be aware of any guns or other weapons that are in the home. Avoid those rooms or ensure the weapons are locked away and harder to access if possible.
  • If your partner becomes violent and you can’t escape, try to make yourself as small as possible. Curl into a ball to protect your chest and stomach, and cover your neck and back of your head with your hands.
Digital Safety

Your phone or internet use can be monitored without you knowing it. The following tips can help when you are in an abusive relationship or after you leave.

  • Clear your search history after searching for resources or help.
  • Consider using a pay-as-you-go phone to contact family or DV services so your partner doesn’t know you reached out.
  • Use the Apple Safety Check feature if you have an Apple phone to see any apps or trackers downloaded to your phone.
  • Make any social media accounts you have private. Don’t allow friends or family to post photos that might show where you are staying or visiting. This will make it harder for an ex to find you after leaving.
Sexual Abuse Safety Planning

Sexual abuse is more prevalent among trans and nonbinary survivors compared to their LGBTQ+ peers. Approximately 22.5% of trans women, 22.4% of non-binary women, and 19.2% of trans men reported sexual abuse to The Hotline in 2023, which is higher than the average of 14.2% of LGBTQ+ survivors. That means that safety planning around sexual abuse is crucial.

If you don’t live with your abusive partner, you can:

  • Purposefully spend time with your partner in public
  • Take a friend with you when visiting your partner

If you live with your abusive partner, you can:

  • Ask friends or family to call you after bedtime for minor emergencies
  • Say you’re unable to get aroused or fake ailments like nausea, headache or migraine, urinary tract infections, etcetera.


Abuse can impact your mental and emotional health. Whether you are currently experiencing transphobia in a relationship or ending a transphobic relationship, taking care of yourself is crucial. Self-care looks different for everyone, but these tips are a good starting point.

  • Journal, write poetry, or create art: this can be a great way to express yourself and process complex emotions or situations. Remember to keep what you create secret from your partner(s) if you’re still in an abusive relationship.
  • Practice a hobby: this could be cooking, learning a new skill, or doing something you weren’t able to do before due to the abuse.
  • Take care of your body: remember to eat and sleep regularly, drink plenty of water, and move around! Stress takes a significant toll on the body, so it’s important to do what you can to take care of it. This could mean eating at regular intervals or going on short walks outside.
  • Talk to someone: each person experiences abuse in different ways, but it can be helpful to talk to someone about it. Talking to someone can help you process your experiences and begin to heal. For trans individuals, speaking with a counselor who understands their specific situation is vital. You can find queer and trans therapists who can offer support here.

Help is available

Transphobia is never okay, regardless of what type of relationship you’re in. Remember, you can contact our advocates 24/7 through call, chat, or text. You are not alone.